Wedding guest dancing

Welcome to Money Moves. I’m digging into all things money — moves that can impact you, links and insights, and the one thing I can’t get off my mind.

What happened:

Bells are ringing as the wedding season returns—and it’s back with a vengeance. After a two-year slowdown driven by the pandemic, many couples and their guests got left in planning limbo. It seems everyone is excited for weddings to be back. Plus, with more destination weddings planned than ever before, wedding season aligns nicely with the travel bug that’s bitten many of us. I know I can’t wait to get dressed up and celebrate with close friends/family in a fabulous destination!

The only downside to this wedding season is the same issue impacting everything else, the cost of attending a wedding is going up.

Why it matters:

By far, the biggest costs of attending a destination wedding are travel and accommodations. And with so many people excited to travel, increased demand leads to higher prices. In the past year, the cost of a plane ticket is up 12.7% and hotel rates are up 29%. (I won’t even mention the price of gas.) And remember, if it’s costing you more to get to the wedding, you can assume the couple is paying more to host as well. So if you’re a traditionalist and want to spend as much on the gift as your hosts spend on you, be sure to select something that reflects those higher prices.

What it means for you:

Of course, being there to catch the bouquet shouldn’t mean you throw your budget out the window. Planning ahead will be your most valuable tool. Get the discounted room rate the hosts have locked in, book a flight early for better prices, be mindful of your spending on other activities and meals and dust off those dresses and suits from your pre-pandemic past (no one remembers the last time you wore it!). Being prepared will let you focus your wedding attention where it really counts — on the dance floor.

And remember, as much as you want to be there for your friends and family’s big days, no wedding is worth going into debt for. If traveling to a wedding doesn’t fit within your budget, it’s okay to turn down the invite — just do it before the RSVP deadline (manners matter).


Purple background with magnifying glasses. Text overlay: On my mind.

I barely know who Nikola Peltz and Brooklyn Beckham are, but I’m obsessed with their wedding pictures. How else am I supposed to see what a multimillion-dollar wedding is like? I enjoy the photos, the dress details, the hype and the glamour, but I can’t help but wonder if showcasing a wedding like that in the media impacts the expectations of young people. I’ve got to give parents credit. I think they are likely to do a good job of helping children realize that a wedding that lavish isn’t attainable for most. But it may still lead to a creep higher in how much couples think they should spend on a wedding. We can’t forget that many big spending decisions come with tradeoffs. Going all out on a wedding, means we may have to give up savings for: retirement, a down payment on a home, a rainy day fund – and so many of the other important goals we save for.

Purple background with coins falling. Text overlay: Spare change.

Check out what else we’re reading this week.

 Illustration of a woman pouring pet food into a bowl with a dog, cat and bird surrounding her. Text overlay: Go figure. Around 23 million American households adopted a pet during the pandemic. Source: ASPCA  

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Expert Take with speech bubble icon

Headshot of Lindsey BellLindsey Bell, Ally’s chief markets & money strategist, is an award-winning investment professional with a passion for personal finance and more than 17 years of Wall Street experience. Bell’s unique ability to connect the dots between data and real life and craft bite-sized money ideas that people can use and apply stems from her deep background as an analyst, researcher and portfolio manager at organizations including J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank. She is known for demonstrating why and how an understanding of all things money improves a person’s finances and overall well-being. An ongoing CNBC contributor, Bell empowers consumers and investors across all walks of life and frequently shares her insights with the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Kiplinger’s, Forbes and Business Insider. She also serves on the board of Better Investing, a non-profit focused on investment education.

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